24 Aug, 2022 10:20a.m.

Financial criteria for compassionate appointment valid, to be construed strictly:SC


The Supreme Court has ruled that regulations establishing financial requirements for appointments made on the basis of compassion are valid, legal regulations that must be applied strictly.

Otherwise, a bench of Justices Indira Banerjee and V Ramasubramaniam held, the quota set aside for compassionate appointments will be filled up, barring those who might be in greater and/or far more acute financial difficulties.

The top court held that the claim for a compassionate appointment can be traced only to the scheme framed by the employer for such employment, and that there is no right in any way outside of such a scheme and that there could be no automatic appointment simply on the basis of an application. The division bench in this case further cited the ruling in the case of State Bank of India vs. Raj Kumar.

In the matter at hand, Central Bank had contested the Bombay High Court's ruling directing it to take into consideration the application for a compassionate appointment made by one Nitin based on his seniority.

In 2015, YP Arawade, Nitin's father, submitted a request for voluntary early retirement from service citing physical incapacity while employed as a Special Assistant at the Kolgaon Branch of the Bank in Ahmednagar District, Maharashtra.

Employees who request early retirement on the basis of medical incapacity will receive an ex-gratia lump sum payment under the Banks' "Scheme for Payment of Ex-Gratia Lump Sum Amount in lieu of Appointment on Compassionate Grounds."

Employees of the Bank who wanted to retire early owing to a medical condition before turning 55 years old were eligible for the benefits of the programme, provided that their family's total monthly income, as determined by the formula established, was less than 60% of their last received gross salary.

The "Scheme For Appointment on Compassionate Grounds or Payment of Lumpsum Ex-Gratia Amount" was announced by the bank later in 2014.

Nitin sought for a compassionate appointment in July 2015, hiding the fact that he was working for the ICICI Bank, and then abruptly quit almost eight months later.

The Compassionate Appointment Scheme's four-member committee rejected Nitin's petition on the grounds that the retired employee's family was not impoverished and had an estimated monthly income of Rs. 36,773, which was more than 60% of the retired employee's last drawn gross salary of Rs. 55,978.

The top court also concluded that the family's monthly income had been assessed without taking into consideration the monthly wage that his son Nitin was receiving from ICICI Bank at the time that his father had prematurely retired from employment due to a medical disability.

The division bench's conclusion that whether the family was indigent or not could not be a ground for refusing a compassionate appointment to a candidate who was otherwise eligible for appointment under the Compassionate Appointment Scheme was therefore deemed manifestly incorrect by the top court, even though it allowed the appeal.

"It is well established that compassionate appointment is an exception to the rule of equality, allowing the dependent family members of a medically incapacitated employee who has no choice but to retire or a deceased employee to get through the immediate crisis brought on by the incapacitation or death of the primary provider. Candidates who are in desperate need of employment but who are equally qualified or better qualified are not taken into consideration. Therefore, consideration for a compassionate appointment must carefully adhere to the appropriate compassionate appointment policies that apply to the deceased or prematurely retired employee ", the bench continued.

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